City of Allentown Parks & Recreation Commission
Since January 2008, it has been a pleasure to serve as an appointee of the Mayor to the City of Allentown Parks & Recreation Commission. During this time we celebrated the 250th Anniversary of the Allentown Park System and in 2013 we recognized the 100th Anniversary of the Romper Day celebration through the Summer Playground Program.
As the community chairperson for the Connecting Our Community project, I worked with the Parks Superintendent to interview and select the design and engineering team, host public meetings to gain input and share information from our Trail Network Study, ultimately presenting a proposal to the Mayor to launch the on-road portion of the bike and pedestrian routes connecting all city parks. These plans inform Allentown's streets infrastructure for the Turner and Linden Streets corridor. As the plans impact several of our schools (William Allen High School, McKinley and Central Elementary Schools, and peripherally Raub Middle School and Ramos Elementary School), we structured the improvements taking into account the existing Safe Routes to School Audits. This collaborative planning and sharing of public resources will lead to safer neighborhoods and ultimately a higher quality of life for city residents and visitors.
Elected School Board Member
Elected to the Allentown School District Board of Directors in November 2007 and re-elected in November 2011, I served the public and the school community by always keeping the best interests of the students as the focus, and balancing the needs of the taxpayers and staff. My leadership roles as Vice-President of the Board and Education Committee Co-Chair enabled me to work with smart, caring, and dedicated volunteers to move the district forward. Having "learner" and "belief" as key strengths, I cannot reflect on this experience without sharing one of the most important items I learned:
Public education funding in the state of Pennsylvania is highly discriminatory to poor communities. Local, state and national educators have the knowledge to do right by all children. ASD educators and administrators have the talent, knowledge and compassion to teach every student. Yet - as a community of statewide stakeholders we refuse to make the difficult political decisions to direct appropriate funds to areas where they are needed. The disparity in class sizes, resources, and rich learning opportunities available to students based on the relative wealth or poverty of their neighborhoods is immoral.
Please consider taking action - contact your legislators and ask them to pass a more equitable means of funding public education in Pennsylvania.
Pennsylvania Educational Improvement and Opportunity Scholarship Tax Credit Program
The inequality built into the Pennsylvania school funding system cannot be resolved by local school boards alone. In the Lehigh Valley, businesses, nonprofits, schools, legislators and community members have joined forces to create numerous interventions to improve the educational landscape. So far, it hasn't been enough to level the playing field for disadvantaged students in under-resourced schools.
My research into successful school-business partnerships lead me to research and write an extensive and startling social policy doctoral dissertation.